Although USB drives can be convenient, you cannot use them with your phone. Unless you own an Android phone and understand what USB OTG is.
USB On-The-Go (OTG) allows devices to read data from USB devices without the need for a computer. An OTG cable turns the device into a USB host.
An OTG connection can be used to do many things, such as connecting a USB flash drive to your phone or a game controller. We’ll show you how to use it with your Android device.
Check If Your Android Supports USB OTG
You can check the box in which your tablet or phone came, or go to the manufacturer’s site to confirm that it supports USB OTG. Look for a logo similar to the one shown above, or USB OTG in the specifications. You might also find information about USB OTG in the settings.
A USB OTG Checker app is another option. This will quickly show you if your device supports USB OTG and what features it will support.
Samsung smartphones and other smartphones come with OTG enabled right out of the box. Other manufacturers might require that you enable OTG manually via Settings > Additional Setting > OTG.
What do you need to use USB OTG?
An Android device comes with a standard micro-USB port or a USB-C port. Many USB devices, however, require a full-size USB connection. A converter/adapter can help you solve this problem.
Look for an OTG adapter that is micro-USB (or USB-C) depending on the phone. Amazon sells many of these adapters, including the JSAX USB C to USB converter.
You can also buy flash drives with micro-USB, USB Type C and standard USB ports like the SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type C.
There are many possibilities once you have USB OTG installed on your Android device. These are the most common uses.
1. Connect flash drives and external hard drives
External storage is, unsurprisingly, at the top. You can transfer any file by plugging in your drive.
Flash drives are easiest to connect, external hard drives might not work. External hard drives, which draw power from your phone’s battery, won’t always work. However, external drives that have their own power source will work fine. These drives must be in FAT32/exFAT file format.
You don’t have to transfer media files. Instead, you can play music and videos directly from the OTG storage device connected to your Android phone.
2. You can play with video game controllers
Android P and higher natively support the Xbox One Controller. The older Xbox 360 controller can also be used with Android phones via USB OTG. To get started gaming with a controller, it’s easy to plug and play. You will need to only play compatible games with your controller.
You can connect PlayStation controllers to your Android device if you have rooted it. You can hook up a PS2 Controller and transform your Android device into an old-school gaming hub.
3. Use Keyboard and Mouse to Control Android
A keyboard and mouse are essential if you plan to use your Android tablet to function as a laptop. Android is compatible with both wired and wireless keyboards and mice.
Since you only have one USB connection, we recommend a wireless keyboard/mouse set that includes a unified receiver. A functional USB hub that works over USB OTG has yet to be seen.
A standard, plug-and-play wireless system should be compatible with all platforms. You should not buy anything that requires additional software, such as the SetPoint software required by Logitech devices.
The default setting of the OS is QWERTY, as we have explained in our connecting a USB keyboard to Android devices. For other layouts, you’ll need to use a special keyboard application such as Colemak Mod–DH or DVORAK.
4. Print directly from a printer
Similar to keyboards, printers that have a standard plug-and-play USB interface work well with Android phones. These allow you to print without the need for a wireless connection.
Since Android 4.0, Android has stopped supporting USB Mass Storage mode. You will need to use either the PTP or MTP modes to print documents and photos. We recommend wireless printers for the following reasons:
- Many brands, such as Canon, Epson and HP printers have their own applications that install drivers to allow you to print directly.
- These cables allow for on-the-go printing, without the need to use an ethernet cable.
You can still print documents and photos with a USB-based printer if you have an Android phone .
5. You can control your DSLR camera
This one is a great choice for photographers. This allows you to connect your Android phone to your DSLR camera to create a huge live screen. You can capture, focus and control shutter speed.
You can find many DSLR controller apps on the Play Store. However, it is important to verify that they are compatible with your camera model before installing them. Some of the most popular are Helicon remote and camera connect and control. They work with many models from Canon and Nikon.
6. Transfer photos directly from your DSLR to an Android Phone
You can transfer photos from your digital camera directly to your Android phone using an OTG cable. A USB cable to connect to your camera will be required, as well as an OTG adapter.
Once you have connected, all photos can be imported from your Android phone to your camera. This is useful if you want to edit your photos or share uncompressed images via email.
7. Connect and play musical instruments
USB OTG allows you to connect MIDI-compatible music instruments, such as keyboards, to your Android phone. You can use both the OTG and a music app to create music on your smartphone.
An Android phone can charge smaller MIDI keyboards but some might need an external power source. You should also check which type of connection your keyboard supports to determine if you need an adapter that will work with your OTG adapter.
8. Record audio directly to your phone
You can also record audio via OTG from your Android phone using a USB microphone. USB microphones are better than external or built-in mics and can be used as a workstation or casually.
Your Android phone has a built-in microphone, but it’s very basic. Apps like USB Audio Recorder Pro provide more options for a dedicated microphone, such as stereo playback, custom sample rates, buffer sizes selection, and even record format options.
9. Use Ethernet Cable to Connect to the Internet and Access It
An OTG function that is less well-known is the ability to connect your Ethernet cable with an Android phone to provide internet access. This is useful if you need to lower ping when gaming online, or if your Wi-Fi speeds are slower than your internet.
To make this work, you will need an OTG adapter as well as an Ethernet to USB adapter like the QGeeM USB–C to Ethernet adapter.
OTG connections may not work on all smartphones. Before you try this feature, make sure that your phone supports it.
10. Reverse Charge Your Android Phone
Modern smartphones allow you to reverse wireless charge your smartphone by placing it on the back glass of a compatible smartphone. If your phone does not support reverse wireless charging, an OTG adapter can be used to reverse-charge it.
The OTG cable can be used to reverse charge your phone. Next, connect the USB cable to your phone to charge it. Although the charging process is slow, it can be very helpful if your primary phone runs out of battery or you don’t have a power source.
Learn Everything You Need to Know About USB Debugging
There are many new ways to use USB OTG with Android devices. You can even give your old Android phone or tablet a new lease of existence with one of the USB OTG apps.
You should be aware of another USB feature in Android, apart from OTG. Android USB Debugging is a great feature that you should know about if you don’t already.